Reprinted from When Thou Sittest In Thine House, by Abraham Kuyper, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids Michigan. 1929. Used by permission of Eerdmans Publishing Co.


The Expectation

Our fathers loved to hark back to their own personal creation.

They came to this naturally by their going back to their fall in Adam; something of which the superficial Christendom that now prevails simply knows nothing.

What, they ask us, did Adam’s fall to me? “In sooth, I have enough to do with my own sins, than that I should trouble myself about the sin of a man who has already been dead many thousands of years. Not the fall of Adam, but myown fall keeps my soul from rest. And the prayer that thrills my heart is by no means how Adam was saved, but how I can be saved, and my sinful heart be delivered from guilt and sin.”

The superficiality of this merely seemingly serious language is evident.

He who speaks thus presents himself as one who had suddenly been placed here on the earth, with no single tie to relate him to his former generation. All such Christians speak as individuals who stand alone by themselves, and understand nothing of the tie that binds them to our entire human race.

And, of course, then you are bound to come to a false conclusion.

For, you are born. Born from a father and a mother. From that father and mother you have been born in sin. Your moral life in part is still dominated by their moral life.

As it is now with you, it was before with them.

They too stood vitally related to their father and mother. And so it ever goes on. Back from generation to generation. Ages and tens of ages together. And when finally you ask: “Did this never cease?” the answer runs: “Yes, once and with one man it did cease, and that man was Adam,” simply because Adam had no father and no mother, and with him alone there was no mention of having been conceived and born in sin. Of course, from this Christ is excluded.

When one class of Christians speak of their personal guilt only, and another class of theirguilt in Adam, the latter is no play of words, but profound and serious truth.

One acts as though he had no past back of his birth, while the other knows that he was already included in the loins of Adam.

This going back to Adam leads of itself to taking one step further, and thoughtfully to enter into the wondrous work of our own creation.

At that other standpoint one does not ask after this, and deems that our whole Christian religion consists in the confession of the Savior and in seeking fellowship with the Holy Ghost.

So the second and third person of the holy Trinity comes to His honor, but the first person is passed by, and the glorious confession “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth” is, at the recital of the Twelve Articles of the Faith, said after others, but one does not enter into it with lively concern and so renders it non-active.

Not that in general the work of creation is denied. Sometimes even with enthusiasm the glory of God in the realm of nature is set forth. But the personal life of faith keeps no count with it. And when one speaks of his Christian religion, it is as though that first of the Twelve Articles of Faith does not belong to it.

And with respect to this, the attitude of the “men of God” in the Old and New Covenant was altogether different.

When John begins his Gospel, he begins with the majestic narrative how and by whom all things were created. With Matthew, we learn how Jesus spake of revealing secrets, which had been hidden from before the foundation of the world. In Revelation, the Lamb appears, as ordained from before the creation. And Paul, every time, not only puts the creation in the foreground and points to the mystery which had been hidden through all ages but is now revealed, but also takes special pains to lay bare the root of your personal salvation in and beneath the depth of creation by directing you to an elective grace, which preceded all creation.

And when you come to the Old Testament, this going back to the creation here bears even a still more severely personal character.

Does not David go back to the days of his own infancy when he sings: “Thou didst make me hope, when I was upon my mother’s breasts.” Does he not celebrate in song what lay back of that child life at mother’s breast: “I was cast upon thee from the womb” (Ps. 22:9, 10)? Does he not go back further still in Psalm 139, and does he not enter still more deeply into his own conception and birth and creation when he says: “Thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are thy works. And that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect, and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them”?

Succinctly and strongly expressed, without a trace of that prudishness wherewith among some people all talk about human birth is cut off as less delicate.

And what you also observe is that by that going back to the creation and to his personalcreation, David as of itself comes up to foreordination. Faith in election and faith in thecreation hang inexorably together, and by nothing so much as by letting go one’s hold on the creation is the faith in God’s election undermined.

From whence am I? How did I originate? Where lie the first origins of my life, before I was yet brought into this world?

Such looking at the riddle of your own life, of your existence, comes early or late to every one who knows the urge to withdraw himself from the distractions of life into quiet meditation.

He who takes his existence seriously cannot escape from the overwhelming power of these our whole existence dominating questions.

And is it not strange that one finds people who, when it comes to an inheritance, or merely to be able to boast of high descent, with all accuracy examine their family registers of three and four centuries back to lay bare the fountain of their noble blood, but who never come to it, more yet than after these human origins, which so often occasion pride and vanity, to ask after the origin of their soul, and after their descent from the hand of their Creator?

The tie that binds us to God must run along two lines: the one vertical, the other horizontal. That is to say, from our soul the one line goes up on high, to seek our God in His glory. But the other goes along the level of the ages, from us out to the generations that have been before us, and arrives where lies God’s work of creation, and where full of majesty that divine work of creation comes forth from his foreordination.

Once you were not. Then you came to be. You also are a creature of God, thus created by your God. From His hand you have come forth. The fountain of human life, from which as a drop you have come forth into the full stream, operates only by His divine power and by the disposition of His holy will.

And therefore what David said, you must confess regarding yourself.

Not only that the Lord “has seen your substance being yet imperfect,” but also that in your mother’s womb, with his own hand, He has “curiously wrought you.”

Yea, more still, that before He thus formed you, also your stature, your character, your mark stood written in His book, before at His high command all these things went forth, before you as child were born, and on this earth originated as man.

Whether the royal harpist sang this song of his birth before his God on his birthday cannot be known. But it may well be said that no psalm can more deeply interest you on your own birthday. And that no day invites us more naturally than our birthday to this going back to our origin as man.

Surely, thinking back upon your past is profitable, and the going through once more in your imagination the years which you have lived can make your praise of the mercifulnesses of your God very abundant and your estimate of yourself very humble.

Such a going through of our own life’s history on such a day is in place.

But you do well not to confine it to this chapter of history.

This history of your own life is a page of God’s providence, but that providence over you is explicable only from your creation and from what lies back of your creation.

Let every child of God therefore on such a day of commemoration enter also into that depth, until, by way of his own creation and of his own foreordination, he comes to that divine good-pleasure in which his life took origin.

And if you object and say that on such a day of commemoration there is too much diversion and too much goes on that renders even a few moments for serious thought almost impossible, then let me ask whether a birthday is rightly spent without a quiet restful outpouring of your soul before the Eternal.

Among the Lord’s people the birthday must bear another character than among the people of the world.

In the world that day is spent with family members and friends, and knows no other enrichment of life than the festal board and presents.

But he who may know himself as a child of that Father who is in heaven can on that day also not get along without that God of all mercies.

And though it is very possible that that day itself was almost altogether filled with festive activities, and in the tension of festal joy every chance for quiet thought was cut off, there is apreceding day and a day that follows, and within the course of these three days the going back to one’s origin from God should be known by every one of God’s children.